Pittsburgh Pirates: A Trade Proposal to Bolster the Starting Rotation

The Pirates need a starting pitcher, and the Marlins need a middle infielder, so could this trade between the two teams work?
Sep 18, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Edward Cabrera (27) pitches
Sep 18, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Edward Cabrera (27) pitches / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates need starting pitching in the worst way, could they find a trade partner in the Miami Marlins who have an excess of starting pitching?

The Pittsburgh Pirates need to start getting off their butts and do some more things to improve the current team. The weakest area on the roster is, by far, the pitching staff. If the season were to start right now, the Pirates would be relying on a lot of young guys with talent who have yet to prove themselves in the Majors, at least consistently.

However, one team who may be willing to trade a starter is the Miami Marlins, who need a middle infielder, something the Pirates could offer. So, could you form a trade offer between these two teams? I think so, and I want to propose a fan trade proposal.

Pirates Recieve

Marlins Recieve

RHP Edward Cabrera

INF Liover Peguero, C Axiel Plaz

In this trade, the Pirates are getting right-handed pitcher Edward Cabrera. Cabrera is coming off a relatively solid campaign, working to a 4.24 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 1.44 WHIP. The hard-throwing right-hander is the definition of an effectively wild pitcher. While he walked 15.2% of the batters he faced, he also had an above-average strikeout rate of 27.2% and HR/9 of 0.99.

Cabrera definitely takes advantage of his skillset and makes it work. His biggest strength, outside of getting strikeouts, is limiting quality contact. Cabrera ranked in the 78th percentile of exit velocity at 87.6 MPH, the 68th percentile of barrel rate at 6.9%, and the 75th percentile of hard-hit rate, clocking in at 35.4%. He also has a ground ball rate north of 50% at 54.3%.

The right-hander is young, as he turns 26 in the second week of April. He’s still two years away from arbitration as well. That’s not going to come at a cheap price, so what do I have the Pirates sending back in this trade offer? The first is middle infielder Liover Peguero.

Peguero first came up and flashed potential hitting for a .274/.323/.462 triple-slash, .336 wOBA, and 109 wRC+ through his first 129 plate appearances of the season. Peguero looked like he had the second base job on lockdown but then struggled mightily in September. He batted for a .185/.214/.247 line, .204 wOBA, and 20 wRC+ in 84 plate appearances from September 4th onward. Peguero saw his K% skyrocket from 27.9% to 36.9%, while his walk rate plummeted from 6.2% to 3.6%. It was a mix of becoming overly aggressive and seeing more breaking pitches, a mix that’s like gasoline and fire, and something I' ve previsously discussed here.

But Peguero is still young. This was only his age-22 season, and he did show some decent raw power. He has the talent to adjust. Plus, Peguero was also a terrific hitter between Double-A and Triple-A. After a poor first week and a half to the season, Peguero then went on to bat .272/.350/.469 with a .375 wOBA and 128 wRC+. He also posted a much healthier-looking 10.8% walk rate and 17% strikeout rate in 306 plate appearances.

Peguero split his time almost evenly between second base and shortstop. His shortstop defense did not grade out well in 284.1 innings, having just -3 defensive runs saved and -1 out above average. But his second base defense was solid, with only -1 DRS and 0 OAA in 208.2 innings. For what it’s worth, he didn’t commit a single error at second base and only had -1.1 UZR/150 at second base.

Along with Peguero, I have the Pirates sending a pretty high-ceiling but young catching prospect, Axiel Plaz. Plaz just turned 18 in mid-August. After posting a 209 wRC+ at the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League affiliate in just 86 plate appearances, Plaz followed that up with a less-than-stellar performance at the Florida Complex League. He owned a wRC+ at 86, albeit in only 131 plate appearances. While his walk rate saw a slight uptick from 15.1% to 16%, his K% rose from 18.6% to 31.3%. But do keep in mind, he has yet to come to the plate even 150 times in a single season, and his batting average on balls in play fell from .460 to just .232. I wouldn’t put too much stock in his numbers thus far.

Plaz was one of the Pirates’ highest-paid international signings in the 2021-2022 off-season, inking a signing bonus of $350,000. In Baseball America’s pre-season scouting report on Plaz, he’s already shown off good power and raw strength. He also has the potential to have above-average plate discipline.

However, they also noted that he may struggle with some swing-and-miss as he grows into his power. But he should remain behind the plate long-term. Plaz has good receiving skills as well as a strong arm but needs to sharpen up his footwork. But there’s nothing here that should automatically turn a team away, and there’s nothing significantly out of the ordinary for a young prospect with a lot of talent.

So why Peguero and Plaz? The Marlins are currently looking for middle infield help, and the free-agent market does not hold any good options. Plaz would arguably become the Marlins’ best catching prospect. He’s still very young and hasn’t even made it to Low-A yet, but it would definitely be a piece the Marlins may be interested in. Plaz certainly has a high ceiling with the potential to hit for above-average power with good defense behind the plate.

I think this trade could work for both teams. They both solve an issue each has: the Pirates get a starting pitcher, and the Marlins get an MLB-ready middle infielder and add a decent catching prospect to their system. Peguero has had some ups and downs in his brief Major League career, but you could argue Cabrera has, too. He had a 4.70 ERA in the first half of this past season, and his ERA rose from 3.01 last season. The Pirates need to start doing something ASAP, and if the Marlins are willing to listen on offers on some of their young starters, including Edward Cabrera, the Pirates need to hop on the opportunity.

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